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Ciaccona BWV 1004, J.S.Bach


The Partita in D minor for solo violin (BWV 1004) by Johann Sebastian Bach was written between 1717 and 1720. It is a part of his compositional cycle called Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin.


The partita contains five movements, given in Italian as:

  • Allemanda
  • Corrente
  • Sarabanda
  • Giga
  • Ciaccona

The movements correspond to the dances of the time, and they are frequently listed by their French names: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue, and Chaconne. The final movement is written in the form of variations, and lasts approximately as much time as first four movements combine.

Performance time of the whole partita varies between 26 and 32 minutes, depending on the approach and style of the performer.


A new transcription of this piece is always a great challenge. There are many of it and even good ones. I myself chose for a HIP-approach (Historically Inspired Performance one, as wonderfully stated by B.Haynes). The spirit of transcription in the time of Bach was in fact completely different than nowadays, there was not the mania of purity, of transcribing one to one, the piece was totally adapted to the instrument for which the composer transcribed it. More than transcription one should speak of arrangement, re-composing. Bach himself transcribed works by Vivaldi and Marcello (and even by himself!) giving to them an unmistakable personal touch. The funny think, from our modern point of view, is that this was a sign of deep respect and admiration from the composer-transcriber and not an unforgivable blasphemy, as still many persons think nowadays of modern transcribers who work in the same spirit of Bach (even if not with the same understanding of music).


Because of all these reasons the basses, for instance, where added not because of their good playability (on the contrary some time they are quite difficult to play) but because of their adherence to the Ciaccona bass-line which is sometimes in the notes and sometimes is just implicit. Besides this, the completion of the harmony was based on the inner logic of the music but also on the studies by the German musicologist Helga Thoene (www.helga- about the unheard chorales in Bach’s music. This produces in some passages harmonies quite different than the ones one can find in other transcriptions. And, of course, sometimes I also allowed myself to give a personal colour to this transcription, I am quite confident you will forgive me for this!

Chaconne BWV1004,J.S.Bach

  • Solo Guitar

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